Millers slip to defeat......
Rotherham United suffered their first home defeat of their Sky Bet Championship campaign as Wigan Athletic came out on top thanks to goals either side of the interval.
It was all change at the AESSEAL New York Stadium with caretaker managers and current players, Richard Wood and Lee Peltier taking over the reins for the club’s first match of the post Paul Warne era.
Wood took the on-pitch leadership role, in his skipper’s capacity, while Peltier oversaw proceedings from the dug-out.
The home players were given a rapturous ovation from the Millers faithful, prior to kick-off, and Wood led from the front, in the early stages with a timely clearance before ushering the ball out of play, under pressure from Charlie Wyke.
Minutes later, Wyke had the first glimpse of goal but his effort was deflected by Wood into the grateful hands of home ‘keeper Viktor Johansson.
The Millers had their first attack of note when a fine-flowing move ended when Chiedozie Ogbene – with his back to goal - was unable to direct the ball goalwards as former Miller Curtis Tilt was in close attendance before Conor Washington had a shot deflected wide.
Both sides traded chances when Hall’s knock back header was blocked before Keane fired harmlessly wide of the target.
However, Wigan stunned the home fans by breaking the deadlock on 12 minutes in their next attack.
The Millers were caught napping as a ball was played into the channel and Wyke got on the wrong side of his marker before pulling the ball into the path of Keane, who made no mistake to fire into the roof of the net from a tight angle giving Johansson no chance.
The home side were at sixes and sevens temporarily and Ryan Nyambe tried his luck from distance and Johansson was scrambling across goal but his long range effort fizzed narrowly wide of the target.
The Millers gradually regained their composure and Brooke Norton-Cuffy’s slip in avertedly worked in Rotherham’s favour as the on-rushing Wes Harding fired a speculative effort from distance which Ben Amos was forced to parry into the air, before the ball landed out of play.
Wigan threatened again when firstly Tom Naylor latched onto a loose ball but his shot from long range arched away from goal, via the aid of a deflection, before Johansson was at full stretch to prevent James McClean scoring directly from a corner.
Just before the half hour mark, Rotherham came within a whisker of an equaliser when a jet-heeled Ogbene left Jack Whatmough grasping at thin air in his wake, before taking aim from the edge of the box, with a lovely curling effort which beat the outstretched hand of Amos, but his Republic of Ireland international colleague, McClean, superbly came out of nowhere to head clear from just underneath his own crossbar.
The Millers maintained the pressure on the Wigan goal and Dan Barlaser planted a cross which fell invitingly for Washington, at the far stick, but his near-post effort was diverted to safety by a well-stationed defender.
From the resultant corner, Wood headed wide of the target from Bramall’s centre.
There was some relief for the visitors when Rotherham failed to deal with a long throw into the box and Naylor executed a sweet left-footed strike which looked goalbound until Harding bravely blocked his effort en-route to the Rotherham goal.
The Millers were unfortunate not to make the most of a fine move, just shy of the break, when Bramall’s cut back from Norton-Cuffy’s cross narrowly evaded the attentions of Ogbene before Wigan scrambled the ball clear.
In the last act of the half, Wood became the first to see yellow following a hefty challenge on Wyke on halfway.
Half-time: Rotherham United 0 Wigan Athletic 1
The visitors, who were now attacking their travelling hordes behind the goal, had the first shot in anger when Wyke’s lay off presented Max Power with the chance to drill a low effort from the edge of the box which Johansson smothered at the second attempt.
Minutes later, Washington sneaked around the back of the Wigan rearguard but the danger was snuffed out.
Norton-Cuffy was deservedly carded for cynically hauling down Naylor before Wiles soon joined in the book for bringing down Thelo Aasgaard.
Just past the hour mark, Peltier made a call from the side lines, as he tried to breathe new life into Rotherham’s challenge by introducing Jamie Lindsay and Tom Eaves into the fray, at the expense of Ollie Rathbone and Washington.
The decision almost paid immediate dividends when Ogbene was hauled on the edge of the box but Bramall fluffed his lines when he drilled the resultant free-kick into the home fans behind the goal.
Rotherham were noticeably creating little of note, and the game threatened to fizzle out with a whimper as Wigan were showing good game management.
With quarter an hour to go, Amos was yellow-carded for time wasting before Johansson kept the Millers hopes alive when a slide-rule ball split open the home defence and McClean skipped away from Grant Hall to bare down on goal but the Swedish ‘keeper won the battle of wills in the one-on-one situation to divert his effort away from goal.
However, Rotherham’s relief was only temporary as Wigan effectively sealed the deal with six minutes to go, from the following set-piece.
McClean delivered a delicious centre and Whatmough emerged from the ruck of bodies to calmly nod back across goal taking Johansson and a number of Rotherham defenders out of the game, and Naylor had the simple task of heading home into the unguarded net from close range.
Full-time: Rotherham United 0 Wigan Athletic 2
Rotherham United 0
Wigan Athletic 2
Teams: Rotherham- Johansson, Harding, Bramall (Ferguson 87), Barlaser (Kelly 87), Wood, Wiles, Norton-Cuffy, Ogbene, Washington (Eaves 64), Rathbone (Lindsay 64), Hall. Unused- Vickers, High, Humphreys.
Wigan- Amos, Nyambe, Naylor, Whatmough, Power, Wyke (Magennis 79), Keane, McClean, Tilt, Broadhead (Shinnie 86), Aasgaard (Darikwa 79). Unused- Jones, Kerr, Bennett, Fletcher.
Referee- A Davies
Attendance- 10761 (1700)